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Lobi Stars begin continental campaign with loss

Football
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CAF semi finals: Five players to watch

Continental competition resumes across Africa this week, with the semi-final first legs in both the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.

We're down to the business end of both tournaments, and two pairs of engrossing final-four lineups should ensure a thrilling week of African action.

Here are five players whose performances could prove decisive as their clubs go in search of continental gold.

Walid Soliman: Now 33, Soliman's best days may be behind him, but he remains one of the most eye-catching widemen still playing on the continent.

The Egyptian magician - who was likened to Lionel Messi earlier in his career - still has the pace and footwork to beat full-backs, and is a lethal prospect from set-pieces.

He was left out of Javier Aguirre's latest Egypt squad, but he still retains that X factor to break down a resolute ES Setif defence in the semi. Certainly, the winger's technical class left a lasting impression on the Horoya backline in the last round!

Beaubo Ungeda: Goalkeeper Toni received the lion's share of the plaudits after Primeiro de Agosto's shock victory over Tout Puissant Mazembe in the quarter final, and the goalkeeper certainly was influential in that tie - saving two penalties from the hosts.

However, Congolese centre-back Ungenda has been a key man in the competition so far, proving to be a rock in the heart of the Angolans' defence, repelling attack after attack.

Things may not have worked out for him in South Africa with Orlando Pirates, but the experienced stopper and former Daring Club Motema Pembe stalwart is thriving when up against some of Africa's top attackers in this year's Champions League.

Fousseny Coulibaly has come under criticism in recent weeks and months after failing to hit the heights of late 2017 and early 2018.

However, he responded in some style in Esperance's quarter-final victory in the all-Tunisian clash with Etoile du Sahel.

The box-to-box midfielder is surely ripe for a move to Europe, and as he returns to top form, has the quality to cause immense problems for Agosto in this week's semi.

Sunday Adeniji: Over in the Confederation Cup, Enyimba blitzed Rayon Sports - as expected - in the second leg of their quarter final, but face a much sterner test when they meet Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca this week.

The People's Elephant's array of attacking options have struggled to consistently hit top form in continental competition this term, while Mfon Udoh's off-field problems have been an unwanted distraction.

However, in Adeniji, they may just boast an attacker who's coming into form at the right time.

He netted in the victory over Rayon in Aba, and appears to finally be finding his feet after his move from Abia Warriors.

Goals in the Aiteo Cup last week demonstrate that the attacker is in hot form, and he could be Enyimba's best bet as they look to bring down Raja.

Mahmoud Benhalib: In the opposite corner, the Moroccan giants boast Benhalib, who's charged with finishing off the litany of chances created by Zakaria Hadraf, Mouhcine Iajour and others.

Benhalib scored seven of Raja's 14 group-stage goals, and is currently the tournament's top scorer with 11 so far.

Enyimba's defence, and particularly the excellent Theophilus Afelokhai, have been in superb form in recent rounds, but the magnificent Benhalib has the class to expose their limitations.

ES Setif great Abdelmalek Ziaya holds the record for goals scored in a single edition of the Confed Cup - he netted 15 in 13 games in 2009 - but the composed Benhalib has the quality and the momentum to eclipse that superb achievement.

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